Looked at Castle of Cagliostro again just tonight (it was a Christmas gift for the kids) and was struck at how many similiarities it had to Grimault's The King and the Bird--not just the castle, but the dungeon, the high-speed elevator, the airy towers, and even Cagliostro himself bears some resemblance to Grimault's designs.
The action scenes are terrific. There's an unfounded story that Spielberg admires the opening chase and if he didn't, he should; it's perfectly paced, inventive, with plenty of surprises and intricately choreographed bits of business.
And I might add, the water in this film is so beautifully clear and pure, it's almost a magical effect by itself. When Lupin swims in it he looks like he's floating; when water pours in a waterfall it shimmers like a glass column; when a face peers through a fountain it's like looking through a lens.
The image of such purity is ironic, what with the base and decadent corruption at the heart of the film, at the heart of Count Cagliostro--don't know if Miyazaki intended this, though.
Clarisse, on the other hand, matches that purity, down to her clear blue eyes and simple, straightforward manner. She's no run-of-the-mill damsel in distress; when Lupin's knocked unconscious, she tends to him with water gathered in a glove (she can be resourceful, in effect); when he's seriously hurt, she risks her life to save him. She earns Goemon and Jigen's respect and admiration in about ten seconds flat (literally), and she may have been Lupin's greatest peril, the one time when he comes closest to being captured (you can see that in the expression he desperately tries to hide from Clarisse).
One last thing--this 100 minute film was done in an unheard-of four months, and as a result, Miyazaki (according to IMDb, anyway) had to abandon his original ending for what he considers a less satisfactory one. Boggles the mind to think of what that ending might have been.